In many companies nowadays we can find the following paragraph in their code of conduct:

Employees must, however, avoid acquiring any business interest or participating in any other activity outside the Organization that would, or would appear to:

  • Create an excessive demand upon their time and attention, thus depriving the Organization of their best efforts on the job.

At first sight it doesn't look that bad. The company wants to make sure that an employee is doing their best and offering their talents and full focus in exchange for the compensation.

However with all recent initiatives for the work/life balance and with the entire Right to Disconnect movement being discussed in Europe should this be widely accepted? Example scenarios which would to some extent violate this statement:

  • having a child,
  • having a hobby which can potentially impact employee's well being/physical state at work (martial arts, long distance travel, physically demanding sport activities).

As long as my performance is accepted by my supervisors should the company be allowed to influence my after-hours life? I think I'm OK with agreeing to that statement but there are people who take such statements extremely seriously and would not engage in activities they'd like because of it.


1 Answer 1


Can company's code of conduct influence what employees are doing outside of working hours if it doesn't create a conflict of interest?

No. You point to good examples that are protected by legislation, and clauses that purport to supersede and replace that legislation are null and void.

The clause is unenforceable also from the standpoint that the risks and effects of pursuing versus refraining from non-work interests are highly debatable. A prohibition (for instance, of pregnancy and parenthood) could frustrate the purpose of the contract insofar as the employee's legitimate, personal interests might be a major incentive for performing well at work.

  • Are we sure that the sport example is protected by law? If I was an employer, and an employee was calling in sick every Monday because they had been hurt in an extreme sport I'd be pretty annoyed. Commented May 19, 2022 at 15:16
  • 1
    @DJClayworth - you deal with that as a workplace issue, including available sickness time off. You don't deal with it by limiting their participation in activities outside of work. As a counterpoint though, various sports figures have contracts that prevent them from certain activities, such as playing pick-up basketball, because of injuries to other players for that team in the past. But those are specifically pointed out and accepted by both parties.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 19:14
  • @DJClayworth "Are we sure that the sport example is protected by law?" Statutory protections really are not --and should not be-- in terms of sports, but in terms that broadly encompass the person's right to his integral self-development. Commented May 19, 2022 at 19:20
  • @JonCuster "various sports figures have contracts that prevent them from certain activities, such as playing pick-up basketball". That makes sense. In those cases the reason of being for such narrow constraints is clearer, more discernible, than the blanket prohibitions where the connection to the person's job is far fetched. Commented May 19, 2022 at 19:29

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